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Review Roundup: PARIS Opens at Atlantic Stage 2 - What Did the Critics Think?


Paris opened last night, Tuesday, January 21st for a limited engagement through Sunday, February 9th, 2020 Off-Broadway at Atlantic Stage 2 (330 West 16th Street).

Paris features Jules Latimer (Off-Broadway Debut), Ann McDonough (The Ferryman), Bruce McKenzie (10 out of 12), James Murtaugh (Ah, Wilderness!), Eddie K. Robinson (Awake), Danielle Skraastad (Hurricane Diane) and Christopher Dylan White (The Bridge Play).

Emmie is one of the only black people living in Paris, Vermont, and she desperately needs a job. When she is hired at Berry's, a store off the interstate selling everything from baby carrots to lawnmowers, she begins to understand a new kind of isolation. A play about invisibility, being underpaid, and how it feels to work on your feet for ten hours a day. Paris is the off-Broadway playwriting debut of acclaimed actor Eboni Booth, directed by Knud Adams.

Paris features scenic design by David Zinn, costume design by Arnulfo Maldonado, lighting design by Oona Curley, sound design by Fan Zhang, original compositions by Trey Anastasio and casting by Caparelliotis Casting: Henry Russell Bergstein, CSA.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: But while "Greater Clements" deploys the grinding gears of melodrama to wear down its doomed characters, "Paris" takes an almost flatline approach to the unhappy existences it portrays. Yes, these people explode in fits of temper on a regular basis; they taunt and insult and scrap with one another; and at least one of them is involved in dangerously illegal activities.Yet suspense rarely makes an appearance in this realistically acted, astutely written play, which is directed with a very even hand by Knud Adams. An ever-corrosive anxiety - the kind that comes from never knowing if this week's paycheck will cover this week's living expenses - is in the oxygen of Berry's. And it leaves those working in its airless confines (evoked mercilessly by David Zinn's gloomy set) in a state of depleted resignation.

Naveen Kumar, Time Out: Set behind the employees-only doors at a big-box store, Paris is often funny in the style of a workplace sitcom. But Eboni Booth's remarkable new play also casts the discomfiting shadows of a low-key social and psychological thriller. Both its humor and its quiet horrors are connected to the social realities of race and the disintegration of a viable working class. Booth's deft and delicate hand cuts with slow deliberation until it reaches the bone.

Stanford Friedman, New York Theatre Guide: Paris, the new work by emerging playwright Eboni Booth, has nothing to do with the City of Light. This slice-of-life drama is set in Paris, Vermont, a city of blight, where a group of superstore warehouse employees, circa 1995, struggle through their long shifts before heading to a second job, or to the bar, or disappearing altogether. The play, staged by the Atlantic Theater Company at Atlantic Stage 2, percolates at a slow and even pace, under the sure direction of Knud Adams, as it establishes the plight of each of its seven characters. Which is not to say that everything is spelled out for the audience. Rather, the most effective moments are those with pieces missing, or where a line of brutish dialogue is met with only a simmering silence.

Michael Sommers, New York Stage Review: Although the play may be somewhat wanting in dramatic heft, the subtle social observations and the good talk that the author provides-plus the excellent production that serves everything so well-makes this little trip to Paris mostly a pleasure.

David Hurst, Talkin' Broadway: Fortunately for the playwright and director, the talented cast makes most of Paris work even when the writing is vague or defies credulity. As Emmie, Jules Latimer, a senior at Juilliard, makes a beautifully understated Off-Broadway debut as a young African-American woman who is unseen by the people around her, despite the fact she grew up in Paris. (Emmie keeps telling everyone she's from Paris but they respond by saying, "then why don't I know you?") As Logan, Christopher Dylan White movingly reveals layers of angst and frustration when Gar changes his shift hours, forcing him to miss a rap concert with his band. And as Wendy, the crafty Ann McDonough plays the peacemaker among the staff as they argue, fight, and struggle with their lot in life. Eddie K. Robinson is scary as Gar, but no one is scarier than Bruce McKenzie as Carlisle, whose creepy scene when he intimidates Emmie is positively cringe making. The bravura turn in Paris comes from Danielle Skraastad as Maxine, a woman with a hair-trigger temper whose rage at her circumstances is off the charts. Like her castmates, Skraastad takes what's two-dimensional on the page and makes it three-dimensional on the stage in a mesmerizing tour-de-force.

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